The hills come alive in Salzburg on “Sound of Music” 50th anniversary

Austrian tour guides talk the “Sound of Music” as the iconic film celebrates its 50th anniversary.

SALZBURG, AUSTRIA (MARCH 26, 2015) (REUTERS) – The iconic musical film “The Sound of Music” is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year and that could mean big business for tour guides at locations where the film was shot in Salzburg, Austria.

The film, starring Julie Andrews and famous for such classic songs as “Sixteen Going on Seventeen” and “My Favourite Things”, is based on the writings of Maria von Trapp who detailed how her family escaped Austria when it was ruled by the Nazis.

Many locations in the movie are instantly recognisable for fans, including the Leopoldskron Castle, now a 67-room hotel, which was used as the Von Trapp residence in the film.

That has led to “The Sound of Music” fans from around the world visiting the sites and that has made money for local tours.

“After about ten years ago they found out they make money with the movie. It was already since 25 years clear that people, especially English-speaking people, are coming because of the movie, you know. And we had the luck that, you know, the owner was married with an American (winks) and he knows about the movie and he said we can make money with that. And so they started in 1976. Since this time we make the Sound of Music tour and it’s the best tour we have,” said the manager of “Bob’s Tours” Eviline Truhlau.

There are many sites in Salzburg that were used in the film, as Truhlau explains, “When they filmed here they really hopped around. They put things together that are not really together, by example the house. They used the castle, a Rococo castle, they used a Baroque castle for the front and for the back, you know. The gazebo moved in the meantime but it was built for the movie so it was used for that, it never belonged to the castle – I guess it was just the kind of thing to make something extra in this movie.”

Although “The Sound of Music” will always be associated with the hills and mountains of Austria, the manager of the Leopoldskron Hotel claims the movie does not have quite the same level of popularity at home as it does in other parts of the world.

“The special thing about the ‘Sound of Music’ is that it is not very famous in Austria. People know about it and have heard about it but probably not very many people have seen it. The same goes for Germany and Switzerland. The biggest market for the film continues to be America as well as England and then Japan, Korea, India. People still watch the musical in these countries. In England it is shown every Christmas like “Dinner For One” is here on New Year’s Eve – it’s simply part of tradition to watch “The Sound of Music”. And we notice that guests coming from these countries have a completely different relationship to the film compared with us here in Salzburg where many people just haven’t seen it and think ‘yes I have heard of it but never seen it,” Daniel T. Szelenyi said.

There are plans for more “Sound of Music” celebrations this year and there was even a reference to the film during Lady Gaga’s Oscars performance.

Tour guides in Salzburg will certainly hope the 50th anniversary means more tourists travel to see the very hills where Julie Andrews sang her most famous line.